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ARCHIVES Home

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ARCHIVES  April 2006, Week 4

ARCHIVES April 2006, Week 4

Subject:

Re: Flabbergasted by NARA visit today

From:

[log in to unmask]

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Thu, 27 Apr 2006 13:36:07 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (222 lines)

Tom and List members, you mostly addressed Eric's and Harry's points, 
but I'll address the part you addressed to me when you wrote,

"As another aside, while I normally like the posts that Maarja makes 
since they
are normally quite insightful, I think the initial post on the research 
card
issue was a rare mistake.  That is something that should have been 
handled by
making a few appropriate calls around NARA instead of venting on the 
listserv."

If the refusal to renew a card a day before it expires is not stated on 
the website as policy, a few calls around NARA is not going to help 
people.  I saw no point in calling around after I got back to my 
office.  I expressed my dismay in the research room area and asked to 
speak to a supervisor.  He gave me the same story as the other two 
staff members.  I told him the policy should be stated on the website.  
(I'm a classic ISTJ in Myers-Briggs, much more inclined to look stuff 
up than to call around, LOL.  Perfectly suited to being a stack rat in 
my younger days, LOL.  But I did do my "research" before I took time 
off from the  job this a.m.)

I'm stuck, one way or another, I have no card as of COB tomorrow.  
Whether I called around or not when I got back to my  office would not 
help that.  It's not like anyone would bend the rules, etc.  My point 
in posting to the Listserv was to caution people who are outside DC and 
who work with researchers.  If I was disappointed in my experience this 
morning, and I work in downtown DC, I cannot imagine what it would feel 
like for someone who only was in town today and who lived hundreds or 
thousands of miles away.

I appreciate your kind comments about my insightful posts.  If you feel 
I was venting rather than giving people a heads up, I'm sorry if it 
came across that way and that anyone was offended.  I'm human, just 
like anyone else.  And, for whatever reason, I don't always have a lot 
of faith in problems being sorted out.  For reasons that I can't quite 
explain, this morning's experience  just left me feeling really 
depressed.  But your comments generally are welcome and I'm glad you 
felt free to speak up.

Maarja




-----Original Message-----
From: Thomas Eisinger <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Thu, 27 Apr 2006 13:18:24 -0400
Subject: Re: Flabbergasted by NARA visit today

I will probably regret responding to this, but...

1.The no-Saturday pull policy is advertised on the website, so you can 
only be
suprised about that if you do not do your "research" first.  The fault 
there is
your's, not NARA's.  I have pulled many records for researchers to come 
look at
on a Saturday.

2. It is not hard to call NARA ahead of time, something you want to do 
anyway.
The reason is that you probably want to talk with a subject expert who 
may have
some insight into the records you wish to look at.  I have managed to 
talk with
many researchers as they prepared for their visit, and it was almost 
always to
their benefit that they did so.

3. Believe it or not, NARA does not throw up all the roadblocks to 
research that
you seem to think they do.

4. Personally, I resent the implication you made that NARA gives public 
servants
a bad name.  Mistakes are sometimes made, no one is perfect, but this 
comment
was over the top.

As another aside, while I normally like the posts that Maarja makes 
since they
are normally quite insightful, I think the initial post on the research 
card
issue was a rare mistake.  That is something that should have been 
handled by
making a few appropriate calls around NARA instead of venting on the 
listserv.

Tom Eisinger
Center for Legislative Archives

p.s.  As a disclaimer, my opinions posted absolutely are not in anyway
affiliated with those I work for.


>>> Harry Heiss <[log in to unmask]> 04/27/06 12:36PM >>>
Eric G. Grundset wrote:
"Both days I had plenty of extra time to spend getting a new card and
neither day (the first one being a Saturday) was the place busy at all 
(in
fact, on that Saturday it was empty of researchers). This certainly is 
not
very good public service either."


Maarja, Eric, et al.,

I feel your pain.  I once wanted to use NARA's reading room on a 
Saturday,
so I went to their website to get the hours, etc.  To my surprise, they
don't pull records from the stacks on Saturdays.  You have to request 
the
records you want on the day before.  This is what their website says:

No records are retrieved from the stacks on Saturday or in the evening. 
If
research is conducted on Saturday or after the last retrieval time,
advance arrangements must be made to have records available by calling 
the
reference numbers below. To confirm that records were retrieved, call
(301) 837-1964.

I pity those researchers who come to Washington from out-of-the-area,
don't know this, and learn it when they arrive at the Archives on 
Saturday
morning.
Never mind that not all NARA's finding aids are available online and 
that
most are available only onsite.  Or that many requests for records come
back as "Not on Shelf," or that most archival research leads to 
dead-ends.
 Just getting to the Archives at College Park is no easy feat, and
especially on Saturdays using public transit.  If you have to trek out
there to search the finding aids to find out which records you'll need 
the
next day, then you might as well do your research the same day you're
there.

So I'm not surprised that NARA was empty when Eric visited on a 
Saturday.
One would think an astute manager would look at the visitor statistics 
for
Saturdays and ask themself, "What's going on here?  Why is no one using
the Archives on Saturdays?"  Well, duh!  Take a look at your arcane
procedures, dude.

NARA has thrown up way too many hurdles for researchers under the guise 
of
security or lack of funding.  I can just imagine the public outrage if 
my
local public library operated as does NARA.  It's no wonder that so 
many
people have a negative image of public servants.  All it takes is one 
bad
apple or one bad experience.

I'm now stepping off my soapbox and getting back to work.  But I do 
feel
much better already.....

Harry

Harry G. Heiss, Archivist
Bureau of the Public Debt
Department of the Treasury
799 Ninth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20239

[log in to unmask]
202.504.3516 [voice]
202.504.3630 [fax]



A posting from the Archives & Archivists LISTSERV List sponsored by the 
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A posting from the Archives & Archivists LISTSERV List sponsored by the 
Society
of American Archivists, www.archivists.org.
For the terms of participation, please refer to 
http://www.archivists.org/listservs/arch_listserv_terms.asp.

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A posting from the Archives & Archivists LISTSERV List sponsored by the Society of American Archivists, www.archivists.org.
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